CONSERVATIVE MEP FOR SCOTLAND

Duncan champions EU support for energy free trade zone in North Sea

18.03.2015.

Ian Duncan MEP has today received confirmation that the European Commission will push for a North Sea Energy Grid.

At an event hosted by Dr Duncan in Brussels, the Director of the European Commission's Energy Department, Marie Donnelly, said that she hoped the incoming Dutch Presidency of the EU would 'put a stamp on a North Sea Energy Grid'. Ms. Donnelly also argued that it was time to 'stop treating the North Sea as a dustbin and to start treating it as a resource'.

A North Sea Energy Grid would be composed of a series of new (and existing) cables, known as interconnectors, which would allow countries such as the UK, the Netherlands and Germany, to export energy and to import it quickly when it is most needed.

The plan for a North Sea Energy Grid is part of the European Union's move towards Energy Union. The Energy Union is the EU's response to the challenge of over reliance on Russian Gas. Over the last ten years, Russia has turned off the gas on three occasions, always in winter.

European Leaders will meet in Brussels tomorrow to debate how to take Energy Union forward.

Dr Duncan commented:

'A North Sea Energy Grid is an opportunity to reduce energy bills for consumers and for business, and importantly to create jobs, while  in effect creating an energy free trade area at the heart of Europe.

'We are too reliant on Russian gas. At a time when Scotland alone has 25% of the EU’s offshore wind capacity, as well as 25% of its tidal capacity and 10% of its wave, reliance on Russia makes no sense. The Grid will allow us to export our energy quickly and efficiently and I am heartened that Marie Donnelly has agreed to push this project forward. In Scotland, and across the UK, we have skilled off-shore workers, men and women ideally placed to lay the Grid. In light of the recent fall in oil price and the threat to jobs in the North Sea, green lighting the Grid could be just what is needed.'

Dr Duncan continued:

'Tomorrow European Leaders will hold a summit in Brussels to discuss how to make Energy Union a reality. They must back the North Sea Grid, and allow electricity to flow freely to where it is most needed.

'Crucially, leaders must put their money where their mouth is, as the estimated cost of the Grid is 300 billion euros.

'As Marie Donnelly put it, for too long we have been treating the North Sea as a dustbin, now is the time to treat it as a resource. The North Sea Energy Grid will help us keep in the lights on.'

Background

1.   Dr Duncan was hosting an event today in the European Parliament in Brussels, featuring Dutch MEP Bas Eickhout, the European Commission's Energy Director Marie Donnelly, and the President of the North Sea Commission Tom Christer-Nilsen. More details

2.   Dr Ian Duncan is the Conservative MEP for Scotland and is the Energy Spokesman for British Conservatives in the European Parliament

3. More information on the North Sea Grid

Ends

Contact Andrew Johnston

Head of Office, Ian Duncan MEP

andrew.johnston@europarl.europa.eu